Parrikar's remote & the Puppet Show

By Sandesh Prabhudesai
15 November 2014 21:49 IST

Goa seems to be on the path of adopting the ‘Maharashtra formula’. Align with the ideological enemies, disown the like-minded friends, in order to keep the ‘threat’ at bay. That’s the Mod(i)ern ‘capitalist’ way you can raise your number and seize the power. The ‘Naturally Corrupt Party’ (NCP) thus becomes the ‘Naturally Coexistent Party’, to wipe out their ‘natural threats.’ Shiv Sena for the BJP and Congress for the NCP. Similarly, in Goa, the MGP for the BJP and the Congress for ‘yet to be born’ regional outfit, representing the minorities.

Looks like this new political trend the new defense minister Manohar Parrikar will remote-control from Delhi. A new puppet show!

The challenge before the ruling BJP, after Parrikar has withdrawn from the scene, is not to perform better but to break the strength of other potential performers. With 2017 Assembly election hardly two years away, the BJP needs to try and increase its strength ‘on its own’ and not with the crutches of their unnatural ally – the Minorities. The reason is simple. The BJP, in spite of having 21 in the 40-member House, is actually running a ‘minority’ government.

Perhaps that’s the reason Parrikar had to rush to Bishop’s House even before choosing his successor to run the state. He could be easily pressurized by a group of MLAs, representing minority-dominated constituencies, while promoting deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza, as their leader. The group represented Calangute, Aldona, Siolim, St Andre and Vasco constituencies. They claimed support of other minority-dominated MLAs, supporting the government, especially from Salcete.

Parrikar had to also surrender before this lobby in giving grants to Church-run English medium primary schools, inviting ire of the whole BJP vote bank of Konkani and Marathi lovers. And a minister from Salcete is a must, though the BJP neither have a single MLA from this Christian-dominated taluka nor needed their support to achieve the magic figure of 21. In fact the number has now been increased from one to two – Mickky Pacheco and Avertano Furtado.

With the support of three-member MGP and two independents from Bicholim and Porvorim, the BJP alliance is already 26. But, in reality, it does not matter. What matters are the five to six Christian-dominated constituencies of the BJP, including Cortalim, without which it reduces down to mere 16. Thus, the Government ‘in’ Minority and the Government ‘for’ Minority!  

The Church in particular, and the Christian community in general, directly or indirectly supported the saffron brigade in last election, not out of love for their ‘communal’ agenda but to teach a life-time lesson to the ‘secular’ Congress, for its corrupt deeds which had crossed its limits. The Christians, population-wise, may be a minority. But in terms of number of seats, it’s a brutal majority. Except Margao and Fatorda, the rest six seats are fully Christian-dominated in a thickly-populated Salcete. Two more in Mormugao, two to three in Tiswadi and two to three in Bardez. Not less than 12 to 14 seats in the 40-member House. That’s precisely the reason the Congress arrogantly ruled Goa, since 1980, either as the Congress or through its splinter groups. And the same formula brought the BJP to power, twice with their ‘defected’ support and now as a part of its absolute majority of 21.

Contrary to this, the New Conquest talukas – almost eight – have only 16 Assembly constituencies. Sanguem, Dharbandora and Canacona, three among it, have only one constituency each. Ponda is the only taluka having maximum four constituencies. Any kind of split of votes (or seats) in these constituencies will hamper the majority community, which is dominant in these eight talukas. The BJP, if it needs to win majority seats without the crutches of minority, thus needs to – 1. Minimize the hold of Congress leaders and 2. Break the alliance with the MGP to capture their seats.

The strategy is simple. Break ties with the MGP and Crack the Congress. The ‘independent’ echoes of a new regional outfit are already being heard from Salcete. The Congress stalwarts of Tiswadi have been consistently saying that they don’t need the party; the party needs them. It appears that this large chunk of ‘original’ Congressmen would ultimately ‘unite’ before 2017, to form a regional outfit, representing the minority-dominated constituencies. This will be the NCP (Naturally Coexistent Party) of the BJP in Goa.

The wings of the MGP, on the other hand, are already being trimmed by the ruling BJP with most of the major infrastructural works, may it be Lusofonia or the express highway, the bridges and the flyovers, are being taken over by the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation, now headed by Parrikar-loyalist Dr Pramod Sawant. The PWD has been reduced to the department of minor works, with no major project to ‘commission’. And now Dipak Dhawalikar is being stripped off his major portfolio of Co-operation, giving it Shiroda’s Mahadev Naik, where Dipak is planning to shift in next election. That’s the reason we hear dissenting voices over bikinis or Hindu Rashtra, in order to embarrass the one-time hard Hindutva party – the BJP.  

In the next two years, Goa would probably witness a strong opposition from a group of ‘original’ Congressmen, who will damage their national party and strengthen their image in the minds of their ‘senti’ constituents. This opposition would ultimately culminate into a regional party, an alternative to already-defunct Congress while the MGP would be left all alone, just like Shiv Sena, on the eve of election 2017. The ruling BJP, in the meantime, would concentrate more on the constituencies like Porvorim, Bicholim, Valpoi, Parye and even Ponda and Priol.

This may bring the BJP back to power with absolute majority. In that case, the new regional party would be the main opposition party. If the BJP could not garner majority, the regional outfit (Goa’s Naturally Coexistent Party) would support the      BJP – a non-Congress front, “to keep the ‘corrupt’ elements out of power and Save Goa”. That perhaps appears to be a new BJP formula, which Parrikar would remote-control from Delhi while trying hard not to downgrade the image of his party, with Parsekar at the helm of affairs.

Will the strategy work? Will decide the time and the Niz Goenkar!  

(This article appeared in The Goan, dated 15 November 2014.)

Blogger's Profile

Sandesh Prabhudesai

Sandesh Prabhudesai is a journalist, presently the Editor of goanews.com, Goa's oldest exclusive news website since 1996. He has earlier worked as the Editor-in-Chief of HCN and Prudent, Goa's TV channels and Editor of Sunaparant, besides working as a reporter for Goan and national dailies & weeklies in English and Marathi since 1987. He also reports for the BBC. He is also actively involved in literary and cultural activities.

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